Looking to next week’s Palestinian legislative elections, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged all those eligible to participate and voiced hope that this milestone will set the stage for peace and Statehood.
“You deserve a free, fair and peaceful election,” Mr. Annan said in a message to the Palestinian people released in New York. “Your electoral commission is doing outstanding work under difficult circumstances.”
He stressed that action at the ballot box will help set the course for the future, encouraged all to vote on 25 January and pledged that the UN “will remain steadfastly committed to helping you to achieve a state of your own.”
Noting that the international community is working with the Palestinian Authority to help it to ensure law and order, he stressed the importance of everyone taking part in the polling. “We believe that whether you live in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, you must be able to exercise your democratic rights,” he said.
The election will mark “an important milestone” in the long and difficult history of the Palestinian people. “I hope it will set you on the path to a more peaceful future, in which you at last have your own State and can live at peace with all your neighbours,” he said.
The UN, he said, is determined to help the Palestinian people to peacefully achieve an end to the occupation, and a viable, contiguous, democratic State of Palestine, living at peace with a secure Israel.
“To achieve that goal, the Palestinian Authority must pursue the path of reform and peace,” he said, stressing that the PA must establish its monopoly on the use of force.
The UN is part of the diplomatic Quartet, which also includes the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union, working for peace in the Middle East. The Quartet has welcomed the upcoming Palestinian Legislative Council elections as a positive step toward consolidation of Palestinian democracy and the goal of a two-State solution.